If there are no cycle paths, there can be no increase in daily bike traffic

It may seem as though there is plenty of room to bike around Tallinn. In places like Nõmme, Mustamäe, Lasnamäe, at Stroomi Beach, along Pirita Road — one can get around these places by bike just fine.

When it comes to the subject of cycle paths and bike traffic, however, it is a matter of daily commutes and family logistics — how to get to and from work, school, and home. For children and adults; for eight- and 80-year-olds alike.

If one can drive from point A to point B without stopping and via as direct a route as possible, the exact same opportunity is needed for those traveling by bike as well. This is a matter of bikes not for joyrides or for sports, but as a daily means of transport, as is typical of Nordic and European cities.

One cannot safely bike to work, school or sports practice in Tallinn. The city lacks the necessary infrastructure to allow for this. The so-called “kergliiklustee” or non-motorized traffic (NMT) paths that force cyclists of all kind together with pedestrians of all ages do not exist either in the Traffic Act or in reality; safe and functional traffic is provided for by sidewalks, cycle tracks, bike lanes, and roadways.

You cannot ride your bike on sidewalks, as pedestrians of all ages walk on them at a speed of approximately 3 km/h; bikes and electric scooters, however, travel at speeds of 10-25 km/h. Even if cyclists were to pass pedestrians at low speeds, it still wouldn’t be possible to implement the Tallinn Bicycle Strategy: 11 per cent of all people and a quarter of children heading to school are not going to start riding their bikes on the sidewalk. You cannot ride your bike on roadways, as either they lack bike lanes or, even if they have bike lanes, the roads have speed limits not of a safe 30 km/h, but rather of 50 km/h (which in reality means 60-70 km/h). You cannot ride your bike on bike paths, as there are no bike paths.